Cam Gibson, son of former Tiger great Kirk Gibson, ready to roll for the Whitecaps

By Steve Gunn and Andrew Johnson

COMSTOCK PARK – Cam Gibson has fond memories of Fifth Third Ballpark, going all the way back to his childhood.LSJ Logo incert

“As a little kid I would come here with some friends and family and I’d be running around on the hills after foul balls,” said Gibson, the son of former Detroit Tigers great Kirk Gibson, who will be playing outfield at the Comstock Park stadium for the West Michigan Whitecaps this season.Whitecaps featured logo

“I hope (today’s fans chasing foul balls) aren’t aggressive as I was, because sometime I was over aggressive and knocked some people over. But I think if you look at our outfield, I don’t know if they’ll be many foul balls to get because we might be catching them.”

Gibson and the Whitecaps will open their 2016 season with a two-game road trip to South Bend on Thursday and Friday nights.

Their home opener will be Saturday at 4 p.m. against South Bend at Fifth Third Ballpark, which is located at the intersection of I-96 and U.S. 131. will have coverage of every Whitecaps game this season.

The Whitecaps, a Class A minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, will be trying to defend their 2015 Midwest League championship. There seems to be a lot of optimism surrounding the club with the return of 11 players from last year’s squad, as well as several talented newcomers.

Cam Gibson talks to the media at Fifth Third Ballpark on Wednesday. Photo/Jason Goorman

Cam Gibson talks to the media at Fifth Third Ballpark Wednesday. Photo/Jason Goorman

Gibson, a fifth-round draft pick for the Tigers out of Michigan State University in 2015, is among those prized rookies. He hit .310 with seven home runs and a .390 on-base percentage in 157 career games at MSU, and displayed some home run power in a lower level minor league last summer.

He’ll join two other top prospects – include former Tiger No. 1 draft pick Derek Hill and top prospect Jose Azocar – in the Whitecaps’ outfield.

“The outfield is going to be very fun to watch,” said Dan Hasty, the Whitecaps’ radio play-by-play announcer “All three (starting) outfielders are very fast and very similar. They are going to cover a lot of ground in that outfield.”

Hasty said Gibson comes with a reputation as a hard-nosed, hard-working player, much like his father was for so many years with the Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and several other teams.

“We hear that his playing style is intense, he’s very fast, he’s going to play hard every day, and he’s very good defensively,” Hasty said. “The big question is whether he will be able to hit enough, but he showed signs that he can last year.”

Gibson, speaking to reporters Wednesday at the Whitecaps’ preseason media event, answered predictable questions about how his playing style compares to his father’s.

“You’re going to see some similarities but you’re also going to see some differences,” Gibson said. “I’m just like him in the sense that you play the game at 110 percent every single time you’re on the field.

“I think that obviously he’s a (physically) bigger person than I am and he hit for a lot more power than I did. It doesn’t mean I won’t hit for power and that doesn’t mean I won’t play like I’m as big as him.

“You’re going to see the similarities there, and I take that with great pride, because that’s where I learned the game from and not many kids had that opportunity. If that’s the person I learned the game from, that’s the only way I know how to play, and I’m extremely grateful for that.”

Gibson said his father has always advised him to be mentally tough on the field.

“He’s always told me one thing, and that’s that you got to fight through it,” he said. “Whatever comes at you, just battle through it. I take that to heart. He always said one thing when he was playing and that was ‘defeat the beast.’

“You have to beat the person inside of you who is telling you that you can’t do it. If you keep a good mental game then you’re going to be a pretty good ball player.”

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